Gohar takes the title in Houston
Top seed Nouran Gohar claimed the inaugural South Western Women’s Open title in Houston with a straight games victory over compatriot Nour El Tayeb.
Having both won five-game semi-finals, Gohar took control after a close first game to complete the victory in three games, securing her eighth title in 12 months.
“Nour has been an inspiration. I don’t think anyone could do what she did. She’s a very tough opponent, I’m very happy that she’s back on tour. It’s always enjoyable against Nour. I always feel like I’m the underdog so it takes the nerves away but it has been a great week of squash and I’ve felt at home this week here in Houston. I’m so grateful for the support so thank you so much.
“I’m just enjoying it right now, everything in life moves too quickly so I’m just trying to enjoy the good moments. Thank you to Jahanzeb [tournament promoter] for putting the tournament on, not everyone can sort a Gold event in such a short space of time. I want to thank all my team, my coach, friends and family, Tecnifibre, Red Bull and all my fitness coaches.”
El Tayeb downs Soibhy in the semis
World No.8 Nour El Tayeb continued her impressive start to the season as she defeated USA No.1 Amanda Sobhy to progress to the South Western Women’s Open Gold event final where she will face World No.1 Nouran Gohar for the title.
Recent CIB Zed Open winner Nour El Tayeb progressed through to the semi-finals after England’s Georgina Kennedy was forced to withdraw in the second game of their encounter with a hamstring injury. El Tayeb looked sharp and focused from the outset of the match and started to fire the ball into the front corners with ease to trouble her American opponent.
Spurred on by the home crowd, Sobhy responded by matching El Tayeb’s pace and started to implement her own short game to test the movement of the No.7 seed. Sobhy took the second game 11-9 to level the match. The quality between the two players continued throughout the entire match and as the points became more crucial, the quality only increased. El Tayeb clinched a nail-biting third game 12-10 to place one foot in the final.
Despite Sobhy levelling at 2-2, it was clear that the efforts from the fourth game had taken their toll on the No.2 seed and El Tayeb was able to find the space on the court better in the final game to take it 11-6 and secure her place in successive finals after 63 minutes.
“I’m very grateful to be in successive finals, I guess I worked hard over the last period to come back and compete at this level against one of the best in the world in Amanda,” said El Tayeb.
“Most of the time I still feel like I’m on the comeback, I feel like the other players treat me like a mother so it gives me an edge and confidence. I’ve gone through a hard period, being pregnant and having a baby, feel I have lies to lose now but it’s just great to be back at this level.
“I still feel like I’m coming up the rankings again, I’m very happy with how it’s been going since I came back in December and it feels great to be back in another final. Tomorrow, I have Nouran in the final and I think she has been in every final since I’ve been back, other people change but she seems to be the one always in the final and that’s a credit to her character and her squash. But I want to be testing myself against the top 4/5 players in the world and tomorrow’s another day and I hope I can do just as well.”
El Tayeb’s opponent in tomorrow’s final will be World No.1 and No.1 seed Nouran Gohar who did not have it all her own way as she overcame compatriot Rowan Elaraby in a feisty affair.
Gohar held a 4-0 lead in the head-to-head record with Elaraby but the younger Egyptian showed no signs of nerves in the opening game against ‘The Termiantor’, hitting the ball at a blistering pace to pin Gohar deep in the back corners before taking the ball in short with great accuracy. Elaraby stormed through to take the opening game 11-8 and looked determined for more.
Despite Gohar taking the second game, World No.7 Elaraby continued to pummel the back corners with tremendous power, making it very difficult for Gohar to impose her own aggressive style on the match. After many tense rallies, it was Elaraby who held her nerve, closing the game out 12-10 despite numerous interactions with the referee to take a 2-1 lead and silence the Houston crowd.
Gohar showed just why she is at the top of the world rankings in the fourth and fifth games, capitalising on a physically fading Elaraby. The World No.1 moved from strength to strength and it wasn’t long before she was looking ahead to her 33rd PSA World Tour final, winning the final two games both 11-4.
“It was a very tough match obviously, Rowan is such a talented player but you have to find a way and all credit to her, she played so well and I had to keep digging in but I felt like I found my range at the end and just very pleased to get through,” said Gohar after her win.
“Sometimes it’s not always a good thing to be winning lots go matches 3-0. With my coach, we talk about how some days I won’t be able to beat everyone 3-0 and I need to be prepared. I’m actually quite glad that I had a match like this before the final to really mentally prepare me.
“I’ve watched Amanda and Nour play World Juniors together and have been on tour for so long but they’re awesome players and I’m really looking forward to playing either of them tomorrow.”
Day FOUR : Sobhy joins Egyptian trio in Houston semis
The South Western Women’s Open semi-finalists have been decided with USA No.1 Amanda Sobhy the only non-Egyptian to make the final four in the PSA Gold event taking place at the Houston Squash Club.
Home favourite Sobhy, took to the court in the final match of the day against dangerous Egyptian Salma Hany, who took the opening game. Sobhy though settled into her rhythm to take the next three games, booking her semi-final place in 42 minutes.
“It’s good to be in the semis, that was a tough match,” said Sobhy. “Salma had a tough one yesterday, but I knew she would come out fighting in the first game but I adapted after the first and started to feel better with my movement but it’s never easy and I’m just looking forward to a battle with Nour tomorrow.
Sobhy’s opponent in the semi-final will be in-form Egyptian Nour El Tayeb who progressed to the final four after England’s Georgina Kennedy retired with a hamstring injury in the second game of the highly anticipated encounter.
World No.1 Nouran Gohar was in her usual clinical zone as she despatched USA No.2 Olivia Fiechter in straight games to move into her first semi-final of the season, setting up an all-Egyptian affair with Rowan Elaraby.
Elaraby currently sits at her highest ranking of World #7 and showed just how dangerous she can be as she defeated a resilient Emily Whitlock in straight games.
Day THREE : all seeds through to Quarters
All the top eight seeds have progressed through to the South Western Women’s Open quarter finals as the bottom half last 16 encounters were concluded on day three in Houston.
“Nadine is such a fighter, we played last week, I knew it was going to be tough today and I’m really proud to win this one,” said Salma. “Some days you just have to dig in and fight, it got a little bit scrappy towards the end but I’m just really proud of myself for coming through this one.
“I had a good start last week, getting to the final of the Zed Open but I’m just trying to take it match by match and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Hany’s quarter final opponent will be USA No.1 Amanda Sobhy after the second seed despatched Egypt’s Hana Ramadan in straight games in the day’s final match, winning in confident style 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 in 30 minutes.
Fourth seed Georgina Kennedy put on a clinical display to defeat compatriot Jasmine Hutton in an all-English affair. Hutton beat Lucy Beecroft in round one but struggled to find a way into the match against the relentless Kennedy. The pace was fast throughout the match which suited the World No.10 perfectly.
“I’d like to continue the way I was playing last season and make the back end of these kinds of events and play the squash I know that I can and execute it against the top players and give it my best shot whilst enjoying everything.”
Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb started the new season in the perfect way last week, by winning the CIB Zed Open Bronze event in Cairo. She continued that form in her opening match of the tournament as she wasted no time in defeating USA’s Olivia Clyne in just 22 minutes.
Quarter-finals take place on Friday, and you can follow on Live Scores and watch live on SquashTV.
Day Two : seeds progress to Quarters
As the top seeds entered the South Western Women’s Open draw, all four higher seeded players progressed through to the quarter finals on day two in Houston.
“It’s always good to have a fresh start and a good start Ina. Tournament. It’s always good to start with a good performance and a good win like this to give you that confidence,” said Gohar.
Gohar’s opponent in the quarter finals will be USA’s sixth seed Olivia Fiechter, who was victorious in the all-American encounter with Sabrina Sobhy. Fiechter was without a win against Sobhy in four attempts on the PSA World Tour heading into the match but showed no signs of nerves as she took the match in straight games.
The match of the day came from eighth seed Emily Whitlock and dangerous Egyptian Sana Ibrahim as they played out an entertaining five-game battle for the Houston crowd, which went the way of the Welsh number two.
Round Two continues with four bottom half matches on Thursday.
Round One : Lee scores the only upset in Houston
Hong Kong’s Lee Ka Yi Lee claimed the only upset on day one at the inaugural South Western Women’s Open as seven other players made their way through to round two at the PSA Gold event in Houston, USA.
Lee defeated compatriot Ho Tsz Lok in an entertaining five-game battle to secure her place in the second round, where she will come up against top seed Nouran Gohar.
American duo Olivia Clyne and Sabrina Sobhy safely made their way through after beating Finland’s Emilia Soini and Latvia’s Ineta Mackevica.
“It’s always nerve-racking, the first match of any PSA and the first of the season especially, you feel a little off because you haven’t done it in a few months,” said Sobhy after her win.
Jasmine Hutton won an all-English encounter against Lucy Beecroft in a repeat of this year’s British National Championships final. Another English opponent awaits Hutton in the next round, in the form of Commonwealth Gold medalist and fourth seed Georgina Kennedy.
Round one also saw three Egyptian winners as Sana Ibrahim, Mariam Metwally and Hana Ramadan all scored victories. Ibrahim and Ramadan needed just three games to overcome compatriots Nour Aboulmakarim and Fayrouz Aboelkheir whereas Metwally had to battle hard to defeat Canada’s Nicole Bunyan in a five-game thriller to set up an all-Egyptian clash with third seed Rowan Elaraby.